The Aftermath of the Midterms

The recent midterm election results gave both parties a win. Democrats unsurprisingly flipped the House of Representatives by a sizable amount, while the GOP expanded their majority in the Senate. However, this has landed the parties in a less than ideal situation. A divided government isn’t particularly great for either side, and it’s certainly not good for efficiently passing legislation. Both parties are seemingly stuck with two options going forward. Bipartisan legislation and executive orders are essentially the only choices Democrats and Republicans have to make any substantial legislative changes, and the former is much less likely than the later.

Bipartisan legislation most commonly develops during instances when the parties are forced to work together to get something they want. After the results of the midterms, it appears that this is one of those instances. If Democrats and Republicans were each to propose partisan legislation, the Democratic bill wouldn’t get past the Senate and the Republican bill wouldn’t even make it there. The only option left for both parties to get what they want is to cooperate and write bipartisan bills. While this would be good for both sides if it actually took place, it’s unlikely that it will. Politicians on both sides are typically far more interested in appealing to their base than they are in solving real problems, and with the 2020 election season already drawing in potential candidates, it’s understandable that the parties would see this as the best option for getting a head start in the presidential race. It’s disappointing, however, that neither side of the aisle seems to be willing to reach across. Bipartisanship, while unlikely to happen, is the only idea that results in policy that both sides at least somewhat agree on.

Executive orders, conversely, are extremely likely to happen and will likely result in policy that only one side, if any, agrees with. It’s already observable that if President Trump wants something done, executive orders are his method of choice to carry it out. With a divided government, it’s only more likely that President Trump continues to exercise this power. While some Republicans might be excited by the notion, the continued use of executive orders conceivably won’t result in an abundance of long term impacts. The next president, if Democrat, will almost certainly roll back all of President Trump’s executive orders with their own, just as President Trump has done to previous presidents.

Executive orders aren’t the ideal way to enact policy, and President Trump will likely use them anyway. Bipartisan legislation is usually good when it happens, but the odds of that are slim. Democrats and Republicans are in a tough predicament. The only option for the Democrats is to reach across the aisle, even if it is unlikely. The best chance for Republicans is to hope President Trump passes executive orders they agree with, and that the next Democratic president doesn’t roll them back. Both sides may have secured a victory at the midterms, but a divided government makes either party’s plans for policy nearly impossible if they’re not willing to work together.